Abatement with intent to demolish given to two property owners

May 7—Property owners who allow their homes and yards to become safety hazards are called before the Tahlequah Abatement Board to work out a solution, and recently, the board learned their recommendations had not been followed.

At the March meeting, the property at 607 S. College Ave. was tabled. When it was still on the agenda for the Monday, May 6 meeting, board members learned the owner had not completed any of the work recommended in March.

None of the owners of the properties on the agenda appeared at the meeting.

Wahlelle McFerrin, the owner of the College Avenue property, said during the March meeting that "homeless people keep getting into the house" and he didn't know what to do about it.

Compliance Officer Ryan Young said he calls McFerrin at least once a day, but he never answers.

"As far as work on the house, nothing has changed," Young said. "I did serve him abatement papers for the tall grass."

The property is in McFerrin's name now, Young said. The house, which was inherited, was in a trust in McFerrin's and his sister's name.

A motion was made to issue a notice of intent to demolish in 30 days, giving the homeowner a chance to attend next month's meeting before an order to demolish is issued.

The owner of 210 W. Arden will be given a notice of intent to demolish. It has been on the agenda since January and nothing has been done except boarding up the windows, Young said.

The matter of the property at 205 W. Arden was tabled until the August meeting.

"They do have active water now and there's still some bandage-type work to do on the house, but they are moving on it," Ryan said.

Young said when he recently checked on a property at 212 S. Mission Ave., nothing had been done, but he talked to the property owner.

"It's all boarded up now but still needs to be mowed. He was given abatement papers to mow and it is cleaned and everything is picked up," Young said.

It could still be up to eight months before work can begin on the Mission property, as the owner has two other homes he is remodeling.

Compliance Coordinator Ray Hammons said the owner wants to get permits on his other building sites. The owner has houses on Jackson Street and State Street.

"He isn't getting a building permit on any of his properties until he gets all of them cleaned up," Hammons said.

The board tabled the matter until the August meeting to allow the owner to get work further along.

At an earlier meeting, board attorney B.J. Baker explained that homeownership within the city limits of Tahlequah comes with responsibility.

"This abatement board looks after blight, and 'attractive nuisances' is what we call this when you have a house that's vacant and open to the homeless to go in," Baker said. "It's a fire hazard, creates crime and drug [problems]. That's what this board is concerned with."

The file on the property at 421 W. Fox St. was dismissed. The house sold and is being remodeled.

The home at 212 W. York St. has been demolished and it was tabled until the June meeting.

"When a home is demolished, it has to be at mowable grade," Young said. "Right now, they still have a bunch of rubble so they have to get that cleared out."

The remodel work on 210 Griffin Ave. is in the final stages, and the owner will appear at the August meeting to finalize the action before the board.

Tenants have moved into 205 W. Arden and action has been tabled until August. Small repairs are being made, Young said.

When an intent to demolish is given, the owner is allowed to come to the next meeting to work with board members on a solution.

"That next meeting is when an order to demolish is given," Young said. "Vendors are contacted and told which house is needing what and they give us a bid."

The city doesn't pay for a house to be demolished. If any work by the city has to be done, a lien is placed on the property so when sold, the city is paid. If the lien is enough money, the city can force a sheriff's sale, Young said.

What's next

The next meeting of the Abatement Board is June 3, 3:30 p.m. at the City Administration Building.